Where have you been all my life.

That’s how this cable makes me feel. Let me show you a magical cable that allows you to log into the Raspberry Pi shell from your computer, be it Windows, Mac, or Linux. If you are connecting to a Raspberry Pi 1 model, then this is all you need. For the Raspberry Pi 2, you will need an external power supply to power the Raspberry Pi, as the console cable does not supply enough power.

Raspberry Pi Console

That’s it. Four pins on one side, a standard USB 2.0 plug on the other end. After at most 5 minutes of software installation, you can now connect the console cable to your computer and Raspberry Pi and voilà, you can now log in to your Raspberry Pi on your laptop.

I won’t go into much detail here on how to get this amazing setup working with your hardware, the Adafruit tutorial on this topic does a much better job. But what I will say, is that after installing the drivers and connecting the console cable to my Raspberry Pi and laptop, I only have to run the command:

screen /dev/cu.usbserial 115200

to connect to my Raspberry Pi from my Mac.

After a semester and a half of pain in my energy research because of networking issues and having to find the rest of the computer - keyboard, mouse, display, and cables - this little cable is a godsend.

Here are some cases where the cable is already helping me:

  • I set up a new Raspberry Pi without a keyboard and monitor.
  • I misconfigured the network interface on the Raspberry Pi and couldn’t connect via SSH, so console cable to the rescue!

I am a big fan of Adafruit, so here’s a link to buy it from them. You can also find similar cables across the net, but YMMV. While you don’t need this cable to use the Raspberry Pi, it allows me to fix problems faster and get on with my research.